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Back-to-School Beer: Aggie Lager

You can sense it all around.  There is both a heightened sense of excitement and trepidation (or maybe just loathing) in the air.  It’s nearly time for students to head back to school.  Local business are hawking their back-to-school wares, younger children are giddy to find out who their teacher will be, older kids are wondering where the summer went, and parents throughout Davis are rejoicing.  And while classes don’t start at UCD for weeks yet, there are a number of signs that The Return of The Students is imminent.  My favorite sign just so happens to be beer related.

Aggie Lager, a beer brewed at Sudwerk, is out in the wider public’s hands for the first time ever, just in time to celebrate the beginning of a new school year.  The lager, a pet project of the brewers at Sudwerk for some time, had been poured at VIP events supporting Aggie Athletics and produced and donated to Aggie Auctions to raise support for the University.  Now the VIP beer is in the hands of the general public and still raising money for Aggie Athletics.  Even if the prospect of school returning doesn’t excite you, finally having this beer available should.

After summer travels in the Midwest recently (also known as Land of Lagers, at least to me) I was craving the good sort of hoppy beers that California has become known for and the sort I hadn’t enjoyed in some time.   Naturally, I assumed I’d review something that was punchy and unique since I had had my fill of lagers the past few weeks.  Instead, when I found out about the Aggie Lager, I begrudgingly made my way to Sudwerk to try it like a student less than pleased about the resumption of his coursework.  But duty called (woe is me).  After the initial taste however, I was ready to sign up for a class from the world renown brewing program at UCD.  The brewers at Sudwerk, all graduates of said program, have created a beer I’ll return to time and again.

A crisp, light lager, elegantly balanced with malts and hops, the Aggie Lager pours a gorgeous Aggie gold color.  This is a lager done right and was perfect for a very warm late-summer afternoon.  Not too heavy, and full of taste and complexity, the beer is a classic and showcases all the glory of the esteemed brewing program at UCD.  This is a beer to drink any time, in most any situation.  It is as easily at home as a late evening cap to your day as it is a lunch or mid-afternoon beer.

It is, for obvious reasons, a risky maneuver for both the University and Sudwerk to team up and put an Aggie logo on a beer.  There will undoubtedly be detractors who claim that putting the beloved Aggie logo on a tap head will somehow encourage the sort of underage drinking so many colleges are desperately working to curb.  The reality, however, seems to me to be the opposite.  This is exactly the kind of thing we want a prestigious brewing program at a prestigious university partnering with a prestigious local brewery to do.  And this is exactly the kind of beer I’d expect them to produce as a result.  The Aggie Lager is the opposite of cheap swill intended to get you drunk quickly.  It is a beer drinkers beer, a complex lager that will impress.  This is the sort of partnership that ought to be celebrated – not just for the beer that was produced but for what it showcases.  The Aggie Lager is the result of some of the finest science in brewing the world has to offer, and to put the Aggie logo on it is not only good marketing, it seems entirely appropriate.  Kudos to both Sudwerk and UCD for forging this relationship and allowing the public in on the fun.

Even if the good students at UCD haven’t returned en masse, you can bet we’ll be seeing more blue and gold worn on the streets of Davis in the coming days.  Now that the Aggie Lager is widely available at a number of Davis eateries, that blue label on gold beer is a welcome addition to the school spirit around town.  Whether you are celebrating the return of school or are dreading it, do yourself a favor and try some Aggie Lager.  You’ll be saying, “Bring on the books!” in no time.

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